Startup Weekend Is for Young Professionals

Startup Weekend Blacksburg will be held September 14-16, 2012, at the offices of Rackspace in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

Brian Hazzard
I asked Brian Hazzard, an organizer of Startup Weekend Blacksburg, this question:

Brian, when I hear "Startup Weekend," I think of rooms full of college students huddled together, coding around the clock for two days, then presenting their ideas for software start-ups on Sunday afternoon.  In addition to college students, I understand you hope young professionals will attend Startup Weekend. 

What's the attraction for a young professional with a job, a car payment, rent on a nice townhouse, perhaps even a mortgage already, and off from work on evenings and weekends?  Why would a  young professional give up that hard-won start – and handle those already-existing obligations and give up that freedom – to become an entrepreneur, or even try out becoming an entrepreneur at a Startup Weekend? What am I missing?

Brian kindly answered:

I Googled "starting a business while working full time" and there were over 80 million results. All of this content points to the fact that there are plenty of working professionals who want more out of their career than a normal 9-5 can offer. As a young professional, I may have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug because:

– I crave the freedom of being my own boss.

– I want more time to devote to the things that excite me.

– I'm tired of the red-tape and bureaucracy in corporate America.

– I dream of being independently wealthy.

Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, wrote Hiring is Obsolete, an essay about why start-ups are win-win for young professionals and established companies. He explains that because of the variety of capabilities in the young-professionals' demographic, companies consistently undervalue the best and brightest in this group.

Another problem for young professionals is that established businesses are very different animals from startups. The established company is structured to most effectively extract value from existing products. Startups, on the other hand, are generally more nimble and better able to navigate the intricacies of designing a new product that effectively addresses the problems of a customer segment.

So what are smart, passionate, and energetic young professionals to do? One option is to directly address the problems of a market by starting a business. In this way, they have the opportunity to be paid what they are really worth. 

I suppose that the most important reason I want young professionals to attend Startup Weekend is because it is a great opportunity to form a team and build a business. I don't want anyone in our region who feels called to start a technology business to miss out.

Brian Hazzard and I and many others will serve as mentors at Startup Weekend Blacksburg, Friday, September 14, 2012 at 6:00 PM – Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 9:00 PM (EDT), at the offices of Rackspace in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

The Montgomery County Economic Development Department, Virginia is accepting applications from aspiring entrepreneurs to receive a free ticket to attend Startup Weekend Blacksburg on September 14-16.  More information is here.

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